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The Romeo. © Orpheas Emirzas

Trajal Harrell's The Romeo is the laid-back performance you need right now @Holland Festival. 

"I didn't hear a song I didn't know." Over white wine after Trajal Harrell's The Romeo, the lady was quite grumpy. I might add that I hadn't seen a move I couldn't have made myself. And yet that did not make me cranky. On the contrary: rarely have I been so happy and relaxed... 

Once maligned Brazilian hero Verocai conquers the Holland Festival.

This is what charisma looks like. Arthur Verocai, now 79, tall and lean, stylish jacket around bony shoulders, only has to look into the hall once to overwhelm the audience. In the Concertgebouw's main hall on Tuesday night, the Brazilian legend stood in front of the Metropole Orchestra to belt out work from his scarce albums. He hardly needed to... 

Katia Ledoux in Carmen. © Inés Manai

Carmen adaptation by Wu Tsang shows how to combine respect and topicality

Probably the most famous murder of a woman for what she is is that of the fictional Carmen, a free-spirited young Spanish woman with a fear of commitment. Opera composer Georges Bizet immortalised this character from a French story by Prosper de Merimée, making the crime of passionel a common term for what is none other than femicide. That habit of men killing women... 

Eleven thousand strings in a round temple: Holland Festival highlight, but also missed opportunity?

Jet fighters, drones, thunderstorms with accompanying flooding and lovely babbling brooks with the occasional bird in a pine tree. All of Austria descended on the Gashouder at Amsterdam's Westergasfabriek grounds this weekend and it is what it promised: spectacle as only Austrian music spectacle can be. Georg Friedrich Haas's work 11000 Saiten is a great superlative: surround with emdr and... 

Melencolia by Ensemble Modern at Holland Festival: Unreal music theatre about the end of everything

Future health minister and deputy prime minister Fleur Agema graduated as an architect early this century with a study on the ideal prison. Artist Jonas Staal re-examined her graduation design a few years ago. Agema appears to have an extremely dystopian vision of the world in which prisoners and guards must pass through a disorienting, inky-black, concrete hell to... 

Dying drummer says it all in Tiago Rodrigues' Dans la Mesure de l'Impossible at the Holland Festival

Live music in the theatre, I long for it more and more. Performances in which actors are accompanied by a soundtrack, amplified with or without transmitter microphones, always only half captivate. You soon find yourself watching a kind of live performed film. But without the comfort of a cinema and the technical capabilities of the camera.... Sunday 9 June sat in... 

Music with balls for Beatrix at Holland Festival

Jazz-Rock, it still exists. In all those years of sitting in the theatre, reading books or listening to David Bowie or Rufus Wainwright, I had kind of forgotten about it. Music by real men, Heavy Metal for people who have studied for it, Gothic but with several conservatory degrees under their belt. Subtle chopping where the drummer's left hand is a 17/23rd... 

With Despois do Silencio, Christiane Jatahy commands deep respect at the Holland Festival

That's where Christiane Jatahy had me for a moment. When during her directed and devised story 'Despois do Silencio', one of the actresses falls into a Winti-like delirium, and her colleagues try to keep her from colliding unceremoniously with spectators in the front row, I briefly think it is real. That's how used to reality we are by now... 

PR image Margarida Constantino

At Delft Fringe, living rooms offer the lowest possible thresholds for up-and-coming talent 

Twenty years from now, I can say that I saw Daniëlle Deddens play once before she was a world star. It was on a somewhat chilly Saturday in June 2024 in the storage attic of an old mill in the centre of Delft. I was with about 20 other citizens of Delft, who had paid a few euros... 

Kinan Abuakel at Podium Mozaïek photo by author

Boundless Roma pride makes opening Explorez Festival something not soon to be forgotten. 

Kinan Abuakel took his Syrian classical music with him when he fled the country. With his Saz, a Syrian stringed instrument similar to the Greek bouzouki, which in turn is derived from the Turkish Buzuk, he plays a mixture of new and classical Syrian music. I heard it by surprise at Amsterdam's Podium Mozaïek. That's how I discovered live what I... 

Scenefoto The Stone in my Mouth by Karin Jonkers

'The Stone in my Mouth' offers perfect combo of talents in staggering war story

Riet, Peer Wittenbols' mother, has been dead for a few years. She took a lot of stories with her in her grave from the time she was called Marietje. Playwright Peer Wittenbols sought out those stories, actress Juul Vrijdag tells them. And so for an hour and a half I witnessed a small miracle, because Marietje was alive again. And so did Riet. It... 

Independent but highly enjoyable: Gabriel García Márquez's latest novel

Ten years after the death of world-famous writer Gabriel García Márquez, the novel he was working on when he left life is published. Seeing Each Other in August is unfinished but highly enjoyable. Died in harness He died in harness, Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez. The concise novel In August We See Each Other was the book he was working on when he... 

Italian writer Matteo B. Bianchi ©Claudio Sforza

'Those left behind' reaches out to bereaved families of suicide

After the self-inflicted death of his beloved, writer Matteo Bianchi struggles with his grief, his anger and guilt. With Those Who Are Left Behind, he reaches out to others who went through the same thing. Conflicting feelings 'I hate him. I hate him so much for what he did.' Sometimes Matteo screams at the walls that his beloved S. is an asshole. And an egotist. But... 

'Down in the valley' is another real Cognetti

Mountains, trees, solitary inhabitants... Down in the valley is another 'real' Paolo Cognetti. You could call him the chronicler of mountains and mountain life. Few writers narrate life at altitude, in the middle of nature, far from the hustle and bustle of the city, as beautifully as Italian author Paolo Cognetti. With his filmed bestseller The Eight Mountains, he conquered the... 

Italian author Nadia Terranova ©Sandro Messina

The poetic phrases in 'The night trembles' contrast beautifully with the pain described

A sensitive, moving novel about natural and human violence: The Night Trembles by Nadia Terranova is highly recommended. The major earthquakes in Umbria in 2016 are probably still on many people's minds. But who remembers that over a hundred years ago, the south of Italy was hit by a devastating earthquake, the most destructive even in Europe in the 20th... 

Hidden past and new insights in 'Groninger Museum 150 years - Behind the Scenes'

Hidden treasures. Like other museums, the Groninger Museum houses many objects that deserve to be exhibited. Interesting paintings, sculptures or archaeological splendour of which visitors are unaware. Happy birthday is a treat. The Groninger Museum celebrates its hundred and fifty-year anniversary with - among other things - an exhibition in which you get a look behind the scenes. Objects... 

In the novel 'Everyone sleeps in the valley', Ginevra Lamberti shows why blood ties should actually be banned

As a holiday destination, the green, wide Italian valleys are lovely, but living in such a place is less idyllic, Ginevra Lamberti shows in her novel Everybody sleeps in the valley. 'The valley is not a place but a time that will not end, life here is not a time but a place whose exit cannot be found.' Which is not... 

'The human ship' by Autran Dourado reads like a whirlwind

An outsider or unexpected event that holds up a mirror to characters and turns things upside down - it is a classic literary feature. In the hands of Brazilian writer Autran Dourado, this produced a fascinating novel in which, above all, a lot happens in the main characters' heads. Once Luzia was Maria's nanny, now she babysits... 

The bricklayer who saved Primo Levi but went down himself. In 'A man of few words', Carlo Greppi gives silent Lorenzo a face

One of the most famous people to survive Auschwitz, writer Primo Levi, and a simple bricklayer who made sure that he survived - with such protagonists, an author has a strong subject on his hands. That can't go wrong, you would think. Norse bricklayer He had just graduated as a chemist when Primo Levi, twenty-four and Jewish, was rounded up and deported... 

still from the teaser for Stuntkont.

The best shit show in years comes from Rotterdam

It seems that at the inset performances of Maas Theatre&Dans' latest, 'Stuntkont', a few schools have already complained. Classes even walked out. Logical perhaps, at least for adult school teachers who can't take poop-and-pee jokes. Children from 6 to 106 can only laugh really hard at them. So poop-and-pee jokes turn out to be more amusing than I myself expected. At least when they are made... 

Sensitive and scintillating: Sholeh Rezazadeh's beautiful new novel is one not to forget

After her acclaimed and award-winning debut novel The sky is always purple, Sholeh Rezazadeh impresses again with her second book. I Know a Mountain Waiting for Me is a tender, delicately sensitive and sumptuous novel. Stunningly sensitive It is hard to believe that Iranian-born writer and poet Sholeh Rezazadeh (1989) has only lived in the Netherlands since 2015. Her command of language and manner of... 

Turbulent Greek history. 'Niki' by Christos Chomenidis is a captivating family chronicle

In his award-winning novel Niki, Greek writer Christos Chomenidis tells the turbulent story of his mother and her family. But above all, he tells the reader about 30 years of troubled Greek history.Family chronicle With the captivating family chronicle Niki, awarded the Prix du Livre Européen two years ago, Greek writer Christos Chomenidis (1966) tells two histories: that of his mother Niki and... 

The dark backrooms of the mind. Masterfully Philippe Claudel dissects human behaviour in his new novel 'Twilight'

In his new novel Twilight, Philippe Claudel dissects man's dark motives as usual. French author Philippe Claudel does not have an overly cheerful view of man, as his compellingly told novels show. Twilight is the latest shoot on the impressive tree of his oeuvre, and fits in seamlessly. As he did in previous novels such as Grey Souls (2003), The Report of Brodeck (2007)... 

Writer Federico Falco

Digging in the earth to dispel grief. The Plains is a beautiful, wistful novel by Federico Falco

In The Plains by Argentine writer Federico Falco, a writer returns to life in the country after breaking up with his lover. This makes for a beautiful, wistful novel about grief, origins and the nature of life itself. 'No single word tames grief. No word dispels it. No word can truly express it.' Those thoughts... 

Afterword in TR8 foyer. Flnr: Brecht de Backer, Samuel D. Hunter and Erik Whien. photo: Wijbrand Schaap

Samuel D. Hunter's Proof of God at Theatre Rotterdam: "Since I'm a father, I have to be hopeful, I can't be cynical anymore."

"In America, when you put two guys on stage, the audience expects them to beat each other up, or fuck each other. In this play, neither happens, but in the theatre it's almost always about two men fighting or fucking." Legendary words from Samuel D. Hunter. He wrote the play 'A Case for the Existence... 

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